To avoid double counting acres where multiple programs contributed to the acquisition of a single parcel, the acreage is only aggregated under the program that provided the majority of funding. For example, if the table below displays a dollar amount greater than $0 for a given year but shows 0 acres, the program was not the primary contributor for any parcels in that year. As a result, a prolific program may show very low acreage figures on this page. To see customized program information please visit the map viewer tab or contact the Conservation Almanac Team.
Community Preservation Act (CPA)
Local program information is based solely on the Community Preservation Act (CPA), statewide enabling legislation that allows cities and towns to exercise control over local planning decisions.
CPA is a smart growth tool that helps communities preserve open space and historic sites, create affordable housing, and develop outdoor recreational facilities.
CPA enables municipalities to impose a (voter-approved) surcharge of up to 3 percent on a local property levy. As of November 2016, 172 of Massachusetts' 351 communities, or 49 percent had passed CPA. More information on CPA is included below in the “Enable Local financing” and “State Incentive for Local Land Conservation” sections.
While not included in the Conservation Almanac at this time, land banks are protecting land in Massachusetts as well. For example, the Nantucket Islands Land Bank (NILB) was conceived by Nantucket’s Planning Commission, adopted by the voters of Nantucket, and established by a special act of the Massachusetts Legislature in 1983. Its revenue is derived from a two percent real estate transfer fee which is levied against most real estate transfers on the island. In 2014, NILB transfer fees generated $17.7 million in revenue. NILB competes in the open market to acquire land which provides the public a range of benefits. NILB holdings are in the public trust and currently include beaches, wetlands, aquifer recharge areas, moorlands, heathlands, rare species habitat, ocean, pond and harbor frontage, and properties for passive and active recreation.
Additionally, The Cape Cod Land Bank (CCLB) was created by state legislation in 1999, to allow towns to acquire land and interests in land for the protection of public drinking water supplies, open space, and conservation land, the creation of walking and bicycling trails, and the creation of recreational areas. In 2005, 13 of the 15 towns on Cape Cod voted to convert the Cape Cod Land Bank Act in their towns to the Community Preservation Act, thereby ending the Cape Cod Land Bank. Two of the towns (Chatham and Provincetown), having previously adopted the Community Preservation Act in addition to the Cape Cod Land Bank, have both preservation programs in place.
The voters of Martha’s Vineyard also created a land bank in 1986. The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission gets its revenue from a 2% public surcharge on most real estate transfers occurring in the six towns.
Visit LandVote.org for more information.
Housed in the Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program offers to pay farmers the difference between the "fair market value" and the "agricultural value" of their farmland in exchange for a permanent deed restriction. This agricultural preservation restriction precludes any use of the property that will have a negative impact on its agricultural viability. The legislature authorizes funding for the APR Program through environmental bond bills, and the governor issues bonds on an annual basis.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is a state agency situated in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) were merged to form the DCR. In addition to the grant programs offered, DCR acquires land through the Division of Water Supply Protection, Division of State Parks and Recreation, the Division of Urban Parks and Recreation and the Land Protection Planning Program. Funding is available through the Environmental Bond Fund and the Wachusett Land Acquisition Trust Fund.
The Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game acquires land through purchases from the Inland Fish and Game Fund. Revenue from hunting, fishing, trapping, and license fees is collected through the Wetlands Stamp Program (1990) for habitat acquisition.
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, in conjunction with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, administers the Drinking Water Supply Protection Program (DWSPP). This program, established in 2005 and funded by the Massachusetts state environmental bond, provides grant funding to municipalities and other eligible entities for the purpose of acquiring land to protect current or future public drinking water supplies or groundwater recharge. DWSPP is a reimbursement program. In addition, grant funds cannot exceed 50 percent of the total project cost. Funds are derived from state bond issuances.
The Conservation Partnership Program was authorized by the Legislature in 2002. It is a grant program that provides reimbursements to non-profit organizations of up to 50 percent of the cost of acquiring land or interest in land for conservation or outdoor recreation purposes. All projects must grant a perpetual conservation restriction (easement), to either the city or town in which the project is located, or a state agency, or both. Funds are derived from bond expenditures.
The Urban Self-Help Program, now known as the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program (PARC) was established in 1977 to assist cities and towns in acquiring and developing land for park and outdoor recreation purposes. Any town with a population of 35,000 or more year-round residents, or any city regardless of size, that has an authorized park /recreation commission is eligible to participate in the program. Communities that do not meet the population criteria listed above may still qualify under the "small town," "regional," or "statewide" project provisions of the program.
Only projects that are to be developed for suitable outdoor recreation purposes, whether active or passive in nature, shall be considered for funding. Grants are available for the acquisition of land and the construction, or renovation of park and outdoor recreation facilities, such as swimming pools, zoos, athletic play fields, playgrounds and game courts. Access by the general public is required.
NOTE: This program is now called Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities (PARC)
The Self Help Grant Program is now known as the Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity Program and was established in 1961 to assist municipal conservation commissions acquiring land for natural resource (wildlife, habitat, trails) and passive outdoor recreation purposes (hiking, fishing, hunting). Access by the general public is required. This state program pays for the acquisition of land, or a partial interest (such as a conservation restriction), and associated acquisition costs such as appraisal reports and closing costs. Funds are derived from bond expenditures.
NOTE: This program is now called Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND)
In Massachusetts all municipal and private, non-profit organizations must get state approval from the Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) in order to complete a conservation easement. (conservation restriction in MA). The approval process requires among other steps, a notice of registry and GIS data showing the boundary of the easement. MassGIS is a division within EOEEA that keeps record of all GIS data. Specific conservation data layers include: coastal and marine features, conservation/recreation, cultural resources.
Starting in FY2010 the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) will offer a new grant opportunity called the Landscape Partnership Program. This program will offer competitive grants to municipalities, non-profit organizations and EEA agencies to help fund partnership projects that permanently protect a minimum of 500 acres of land. The Landscape Partnership Program seeks to preserve large, unfragmented, high value conservation landscapes, including working forests and farms, expand state-municipal-private partnerships, increase leveraging of state dollars, enhance stewardship of conservation land, and provide public access opportunities. The program will also fund the development of Natural Resource Protection Zoning in partner municipalities. Conservation activity for this grant program will be available once the program has been implemented.
Data is not currently available for this program.